Sunday, June 28, 2015

JSP'12: Tokyo - Fourth Day

The story continues, I'm on a roll! Be forewarned, this will be a long day ahead - one of the more recreational days of the program. I still remember we all got back to the hotel much more tired that the other days, but hey, fun times are fun times! As usual though, the day started with rain hahahaha I guess I can safely advice people not to go for a holiday in Tokyo in March. Don't do it, guys. 

Hujan gerimis. There's my favourite conbini at the distance haha!

The rain never gets to a heavy downpour like Malaysia though.

Breakfast of the day.

Pasta, scrambled egg, bacon, broccoli, carrots, cereal, yogurt and honey, lettuce, tomatoes.

The bacon is a little different from the America-style bacon, significantly less punch.  

Outfit color scheme of the day. A bit on the wild side. 

Thermal inner wear, black cotton hoodie, leopard-print cotton pants. Thick red jacket just in case.

A bit cray to be showing skin at this time of the year hahaha #yolo #youth

A further drive today as we headed towards Odaiba

I can't get enough of the assortment of buildings in Japan. Each with its own unique charm.

You know you're in Odaiba when the colorful ferris wheel is in sight. 

But don't get confused with the ferris wheel in Yokohama ok hahahaha

Another morning spent in the warmth of a lecture hall with a short session of talks.

Hello rakan-rakan Malaysia!

Topics of the day.

Really important people handling each talk sessions. Such an honour to be in their presence. 

After the talks, we headed towards downtown. Look, Teleport Station! 

Isn't it highly amusing hehe I love it! 

Not long after, this curious view came into sight. 

It is the iconic tower - Tokyo Skytree!

Foggy rainy day still going strong lol at that time, Tokyo Skytree has yet to be fully completed, though there was certainly a whole lot of hype and buzz surrounding it. It was officially opened for the public just a couple months after this little drive-around tour. Prior to the official opening, they even did a pre-book system for those keen to get in especially to access the observation decks. Now there's like a whole little town around the tower that serves as a shopping and entertainment complex. I've been so Japan so many times but have yet to have the chance to drop by for a visit so far. Next time okay!

A rare look at the base of the tower. I like this kind of perspective on things.

We soon arrived ROX Matsuriyu in downtown Asakusa. Skytree at the distance! 

ROX Matsuriyu is a super sento (public bath) with a wide range of services and facilities as compared to the more traditional sento. Here, there are 10 baths, 3 saunas, tv room, karaoke room, eateries, and a popular open-air bath with a direct view of Tokyo Skytree. It is located within walking distance from Asakusa train station. 

Unfortunately, we were there for lunch instead of a nice warm soak haha! 

The beautiful dining hall awaited our arrival.

But before that, a special treat for all - these lovely ladies welcomed our arrival.

Each time anyone walks in, they simultaneously bowed in the most graceful manner. 

Once every participant has arrived and seated, they took turns to introduce themselves. 

Love the little details on their kimono. It looks real heavy.

At the same time, lunch time! Let the noms begin!

While we were devouring the boxed lunch, there were ongoing performances as well.

Several rounds of mesmerizing dance routines.

To wrap it all up, a soothing play of the traditional Japanese musical instrument, koto. 

Took my chance to blend in with the locals.

I don't think I made the cut lolol

With our tummies filled and minds refreshed, we got on board the bus again! 

And headed towards....


Where all your otaku fantasies come true! 

Next thing I know, these strange characters were leading the way.

To an underground anime automobile exhibit that only those who knows about it, knows about it.

Super exclusive. Super out-of-the-world. Super "wow seriously."

It was one of those moments that makes me feel super blessed to be able to experience it. 

So it deserves an outdoor selfie hahahaha kidding wtf

As the skies darken, the temperature dropped. Hence the coat. 

At this marks the end of adventures in Akihabara. I feel that Akihabara has a distinctively different vibe from the rest of Tokyo, there's just an unexplainable buzz that permeates the atmosphere, I'd sense it as soon as I walk on the streets. It's like a secret that is hanging in the air. Maybe it's just the vibe of shared passions that doesn't need to be verbally expressed. Just a look and you'd know, "Ah this person is also into what I'm into. Respect bruh." After all, the interests of visitors in this part of town would generally fall into just a few categories. Meh, who knows? 

After that, we're back on the road again, heading back to Asakusa.

Yes, Asakusa is really near Tokyo Skytree haha! 

You'll know you're in Asakusa when you spot these traditional rickshaws.

Asakusa is well-known for its tempura. It is said that the concept of tenpura actually originated here, which is probably why there are a handful of tenpura-specialty restaurants within the area that have been in business for decades, if not more. We'll certainly be having tenpura for dinner! I don't remember what this particular tenpura restaurant is called but if you're going to Senso-ji, if you see the iconic Kaminarimon Gate with that red lantern in front of you, this restaurant is on the right. The first restaurant on the row of shops on your right. There's an upstairs too, which is where we headed.

No, it's not your eyes, it really is a blurry shot. #photographyfail

Behold, gloriously golden goodness.

Complete with a set of dipping sauce, gobo salad, pickled daikon, miso soup, and a bowl of rice.

Easily one of the best meals I've had throughout this program. Yum! 

Somehow, I still managed to find time to purchase this album hahahaha!

Can't believe it's been three years since this album was released!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

JSP12: Tokyo - Third Day

On the third day, there was one item in the agenda that I was particularly looking forward to. As usual, the day started with a buffet breakfast at the hotel. These daily buffet breakfast was prepared specially for participants of this program, in a food court that isn't open during such early mornings.

Again, a more international sort of breakfast food haha by the third day, the number of participants coming for breakfast has gone down a little, likely there were some who craved a more traditional sort of Japanese breakfast and decided to venture out on their own.

As for me, I went for the more budget-friendly option hehe

Milk, pancakes, cereal, yogurt and honey, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, eggs, mini sausages.

The yogurt's so good I had them every day! Don't know what's with the sausages in Japan though they're so different from the ones we usually have in Malaysia, in a good way hahaha like the outer layer that houses the meat is pulled super taunt that when you take a bite, it's like bursting through it, almost crunchy in a way like biting on jellyfish at the loklok truck. Hope this clarifies wtf.

Outfit color scheme of the day

Grey and white coordinate. Blue patch is the bus seat.

Freezing cold face of the day lol

Back then there were no such things as Heattech. All I wore was a tank top, black cotton long-sleeved top, white knit cardigan, cotton skirt, and tights, plus that black scarf. In late winter. Where it would soon snow in a couple of days (!!!). I guess my youth kept me warm hahahahah added on a pair of gloves later because it became another cold, dreary, rainy day. 

Anyway, I was looking forward to this!

A visit to one of the country's most prestigious higher learning institution, Waseda University. In my experiences I've actually had people tell me, "I hear he / she goes to Waseda University" or "Oh he / she graduated from Waseda" with a knowing look, as if it explained all I needed to know about the individual in subject. That's how tip top this university is lol but never mind that, Haruki Murakami graduated from Waseda University! That was the point that got me excited hahahaha plus I think checking out university, or any schools for that matter, in foreign countries are pretty exciting.

Walking in via one of the smaller entrances.

Branded gate stopper? Hahahaha maybe?

Oh I love the textures on the campus buildings. 

So stately, gives off vibes of important purposes. Rain continues. 

Barely saw any students walking about. Maybe it was a holiday. 

Sadly we couldn't take a campus tour under these weather conditions :(

So we moved on to the do-able agendas under the roof. More talks! 

More data and analysis!

More information and sharing! 

The organizers gave us these cute little pins as souvenirs. 

Buttoned it to my camera cover.

Then it was lunch time! Finally! Hehe

We were led to little study halls and box lunches were provided. So colorful, yum!

After that, we got on the buses once again for some recreational activity.

Each buses had two guides from a tour agency to bring us about. They spoke English and were wonderfully friendly and helpful throughout the trip. After several days of interacting with the same bunch, as the participants were sorted into three groups which travel separately according the the numbered buses, by the end of the program the guides got real chummy with participants in their group. 

Looking at that guy holding this phone, it reminded me that throughout this trip I had close to zero connection with the outside world! Smartphones were barely introduced into the market and I still had my old sony non-smart phone. My sim card is set for international roaming, but upon arrival I found out that it takes certain types of phone to be able to get signals for international roaming in Japan, fml. My trusty old ipod could connect to wifi and email (but not social media lol) but at that time, wifi still was a rare service provided in Japan. Seriously. It was so hard to find public wifi in Japan last time! 

So to let my family know I reached Japan safely, I had to resort to getting cards for public phones, which costs about RM30-40 for less than 15 minutes on the phone for international calls.

The only internet service provided by the hotel was the LAN cables to connect to laptop in the rooms, and three sets of desktop pc at the lobby for pay-per-use. It costs about ¥100-¥150 for 10-15 minutes of internet usage on the desktops, don't remember exactly. It was also real competitive having so many foreigners around that I only got to use it several times. Either wake up damn early in the morning, or wait till really late in the night to get a spot. Even so, there'll still be other hopefuls hanging around to make sure you don't hog it forever, fml. But I digress. 

Rain continues.

We were heading to the National Theatre of Japan!

It is located near the Imperial Palace, not too far from Akasaka.

On the inside, so proper and grand.

Such an amazing opportunity to be here.

We were going to watch a kabuki show! 

Luckily there are the hiragana writings next to the kanji hahaha thanks for the World Wide Wed, I just confirmed that this kabuki show is called "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki". In English, A Chronicle of the Battle of Ichinotani. It was written back in 1751, nu kidding bruh.

Kabuki is like a traditional theater show in an elaborate setting with dramatic, stylized characters, the story told in the Japanese language of olden days. The costumes and props were rich in details and seemed so well thought out. All kabuki actors are male, even for female characters! 

Even the stage screen is exquisite in its details.

It was a big hall, and we were seated on the higher ends. There were a small number of ladies dressed in beautiful traditional kimono seated on the front row seats. Must be really affluent, highly cultured ladies to be able to pay top notch price to enjoy this traditional form of entertainment. Respect.

The kabuki show went on for about three hours, with short breaks in between if I remember correctly. As much as I tried to concentrate, I must confess that at one point, I might have dozed off for a quick bit. I know, I know, so disrespectful, but oh I just couldn't help it :( We were given headsets for English narrations but to me, it just seems rather unnatural given the surroundings, it just couldn't match up. In the end I took it off and just listened to the melody of Japanese language, barely understanding a thing since it's all in old form of Japanese. I still remember flashes of certain scenes, it's really beautiful. I wish I had appreciated the moments more, now that I think about it.

After the few hours, it was an early dinner time. 

Little portions of delicate dishes. Mmhmm.

Since it was an early dinner, we also got these from the organizers!

Tomato cucumber sandwiches and orange juice.

Since it was a little too late to go out, I stayed in the room watching tele.

Catching glimpses of Arashi on tv every half hour hahahahaha 
 At one point it got a little boring so I took a walk to the nearby convenience store 

And got back with hot chocolate hehehe

Third day the end! Over and out!